In an effort to stop Skynet from happening, Europe has banned patents on stem cell research aka cloning. Well at least some types, and I only assume that’s why they’re trying to do it.
Possible Responses to this News
Regular Humans: “Yay….I think!”
Greenpeace: “Oh heck no!!” *finger snap*
Scientists: “Doh! Now what? Back to the Internet!!”
Money Grubbing Pharmaceutical Industry: “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!”
On a More Serious Side of Things
There are some serious benefits to stem cell research. It’s undeniable. It’s in our nature to be curious, and to optimize. Look how far we’ve come with transportation and the internet.
This tongue-and-cheek testing has already lead to treatments for common birth defects,deafness, providing tissue for burn victims and aiding in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Otherwise known as AMAZING.
Picture a wagon with the decal “Stem Cell Research” on it, and then me sitting happily on it.
I think the worry related to stem cell research for the ‘regular folk’ like me (as illustrated above) is that such a powerful tool in the wrong hands can be a very bad thing. Even nanotechnology has unforeseen risks. So that freaky science part of stem cell research isn’t’ so bad, because we all know cool inventions come out of big mistakes, it’s just that little issue of GREED $$$$.
How Greed Gets Involved
Imagine you just built an invention that’s completely new and innovative. Chances are you’ll want to stop others from directly copying it right? In comes a trusty patent.
All it takes is a bona fide epic idea, the filling out of about 80 pages of questions, essays and diagrams, and not to mention $50k. Patents grant the exclusive right to a patentee (aka the person who invented and filed it). This right prevents others from making, using, selling or distributing their invention without permission.
Now imagine a bunch of super geeky scientists working away in a lab that suddenly come up with a way to manipulate stem cells to cure hay-fever. Hazzaahh!! Sounds like a great feat to me. But so did the invention of fission and fusion, until some muppet turned it into the A-bomb. And then Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened. I don’t mean to be a downer but we’re talking about the fate of entire human species here.
Filling in the Blanks
I have another piece of the stem cell puzzle to add to this story thanks to a ChickTech.com reader. Mr X was kind enough to email me about induced pleuripotent stem cells (IPSC). Long story short, IPSC allow scientists to create a new way to generate stem cells without actually having to use human eggs. That x-nays the controversy, at least part of it. However, it invokes a brand new danger – it isn’t intirely stable for human use (just yet!)
Here’s a video to explain it, which is something I know nothing about but now have to know more about.
The Great Debate
If we say stem cell patents are okay, we’re pretty much giving the okay for scientist and pharmaceutical companies to turn our human body into an ‘invention.’ Should cure’s be limited to specific people? What if the cure to AIDS is found, but the muppets who ‘own it’ decide that it costs $125k a pop?
If we don’t allow stem cell patents, scientists will likely have less grant money to do their epic work to because there won’t be big payouts for these cures any more. The science world is all about funding and grants. Otherwise…*cricket sounds.*
What’s the right answer? Well, I don’t know. When it comes to a religious/spiritual standpoint, I have yet to battle that one myself. I honestly look to you, my faithful readers, for help. Or at least a differing opinion.
Normally I don’t write this long of an article, but I think this is something we should be more aware of as human beings. Just think of the future of your kids, or of your future grand kids.
NOTE to women, make sure you know where your ‘spare’ embryo is going.